Feb 28, 2012
This article is part of a series called Videos.

Never before has the time been riper for recruiters to make a real difference to the profitability of their firms. The differentiator between profits, innovative products, and long-term success is, very simply, the quality of talent.

As gatekeepers, your function is far from trivial. You are key to finding the best talent and therefore ultimately a core player in corporate success. But we continue to act like our job is about as important as sorting screws or stocking shelves. We are rarely influencers or early adopters of technology.

Influencers are noted for focus, their ability to make a case for what they want that is backed up with data, and for empowering others to act. In many cases, they also use the latest tools to raise awareness and efficiency.

If you want to be an influencer here are some ideas, concepts, and provocative moves you can use to transform your recruiting function.

Narrow the Field

Most recruiters have too large a scope and hence spread themselves very thinly, pleasing no one.

Determine who the most critical hires are for your firm — the ones who generate revenue, create new products or services, or build strong customer relationships — and then focus primarily on locating where the best of those people are. Use social media, targeted messaging, and focused branding to attract them. Every recruiter should have a community of interested, qualified, and available talent so that they can quickly fill any open position.

To do this may require finding additional resources to recruit the less important positions. These can be offloaded to an RPO or agency or, given enough recruiters in your organization, to the less experienced.

The most challenging part of this is to determine what the most important positions are. But once the priorities have been set, you can then be far more successful by being able to focus.

Get Relevant Data

Spend the time to establish measurable and meaningful goals that can be proven by facts and data. Your goals and what you focus on have to be approved and believed by the hiring managers. The best way to establish the measures is to include hiring managers in formulating them.

Then set up mechanisms and software that can collect and generate the needed numbers without a huge commitment of time. Focus on just three or four metrics and make sure your recruiters know what they are and are rewarded for attaining good results.

I suggest you try to get agreement on reporting such things as quality of hire (perhaps measured by time to productivity, team acceptance, speed to promotion, or turnover within 90 days), and overall staffing efficiency measured by dividing the total of all the base salaries of your hires by your total recruitment spend, including all overhead, advertising, posting fees, search costs, and signing bonuses and so one. This figure is much better than cost per hire as it is free from regional salary differences and the differences in cost to hire for different positions.

An additional measure is the time to present a candidate that is acceptable to the hiring managers. And that should be as close to “0” as possible. Perhaps realistically the time should be 24-48 hours.

Go for the Crowd

Leverage your employees and seek out connections, referrals, and recommendations of good people. Don’t worry about specific professions or skills. Go for anyone who your employees think is a high performer, unusual thinker, entrepreneur, and doer. You can screen them later and, as work changes and new needs arise, who knows whom your firm may need. As IDEO’s CEO David Kelley says, “Hire people you know you don’t need now, but you think you might need later.”

A wide range of skills and experience means that you have a broad and deep talent community to ask for additional referrals if the community does not have what you need already.

If you are an influencer, you should be able to have a conversation about this, even if you are not successful in changing anyone’s mind. By planting the seeds, offering a few different people, and showing you are thinking about the long term success of your firm, you add value and gain respect.

Move the Transactional Out

Outsource or automate whatever is routine, transactional, and doesn’t directly lead to a new candidate, a close, or a hired person. Your job is to find and get great people hired. It’s not to administer paper, write reports, manage budgets, and schedule interviews. Someone else (or a tool) can do this, freeing you and your team to hire the most critical contributors.

Empower Hiring Managers

Let them do more. This is their hire, not yours. You are the scout, the initial evaluator, and the coach. You should be coaching the hiring managers and advising them how to probe, sell and close. Of course, you can help this process by quickly providing good candidates, but the key is to offload as much as you can to them.

This may require you to invest time in training them, providing them with tools, and influencing them to take more responsibility by showing them how critical their involvement is to their own success.

Use Technology — Especially Video

I have written many articles on using tools to improve productivity and quality. I truly believe that much of what currently takes up recruiter’s time is wasted energy. Everything including branding, sourcing, interviewing, assessing, marketing, onboarding and workforce planning can be augmented or even completely offloaded to technology.

For example, social media, and crowdsourcing techniques can relive you of most of the need for Boolean search, job posting, and other time-consuming tasks with low return on your time investment. By feeding candidates good content, and by creating and managing engaging social media pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, you can improve the flow of qualified candidates.

If you augment this with video-based simulations, games, or similar activities that assess skills and abilities, you can eliminate the need for many tedious hours of interviewing or testing.

And, if you use video interviewing you can save time, lower the costs of travel and time wasted waiting and scheduling, plus you will have a recorded interview that can be viewed by hiring managers anywhere, anytime. Consistency rises; decisions are made against the same information.

There is no better way you can become truly professional at what you do than by improving your ability to quickly deliver great people and by being able to influence hiring managers to make better decisions.

This article is part of a series called Videos.